Friday, August 16, 2013

In Which I Offer TNA A Critique and Some Helpful Advice

I've started watching TNA again. My reasons for which are mostly uncomplicated; I love Chris Sabin and I'm going to a show in two weeks. (So I'm going to be on TV. Look for the hat.)

My reasons for wanting to go to a TNA show are slightly more complicated, but we're just going to go with I love Chris Sabin for that one too.

I haven't watched TNA since probably 2009, 2010 at the latest. Actually the last one I watched was when Chris Sabin came back from a knee injury only to injure his OTHER goddamned knee.

I've heard rumors about TNA hemorrhaging money basically since I started watching in like 2009. They'd be bankrupt in a few years, they're losing $600,000 every house show (how that is even possible, I do not know), their checks to the talent keep bouncing, talents are taking paycuts, Dixie's dad is running the show.

TNA was like... my first real wrestling. I went to a ton of shows. I am extraordinarily fond of the roster. I think they have some great fucking talent there. Samoa Joe, Magnus, AJ Styles, Daniels, Kazarian, Chris Sabin, Eric Young, even Jeff Hardy, presuming he's got his shit together.

But watching TNA just makes me angry. It should be SO MUCH BETTER than it is. Why does it suck SO BAD?

I feel like a lot of the reasons were clearly illustrated on tonight's episode, which is supposed to be a "free pay per view" which isn't a half-bad idea, in theory.

The opening match was a four-man ladder match. Jeff Hardy, Kazarian, AJ Styles and Austin Aries. Generally solid match-up, plus a few weeks earlier AJ and Aries had what I considered to be an amazing match.

This one was just... boring. A lot of the spots were so weak you had to roll your eyes. They were flying all over the ring and out of it at the lightest touches. Hits and kicks were CLEARLY whiffed. I know; wrestling is "fake." I know. But I still think you need to put on a realistic, believable show. That's part of the THING, guys. I'm not saying that's their fault. I'm not really sure why that was choreographed the way it was. I just felt like that match was not very strong.

Then we had Dixie Carter make an appearance. I don't think we need Dixie to come around until she gets good at being on the mic. She sounded terrible. "So uhhh... Kurt Angle's in rehab... um... he'll be there for a while... he's still there now... um..." You know what? Get JB to be your voice. JB is fucking great. He can speak. he can speak WELL, and he can speak seriously and from the heart. Dixie doesn't need to be Vince McMahon. Vince McMahon is GOOD at what he does. Dixie Carter is not. And that's okay. You don't NEED to be the face of the company. You really don't.

Then two MMA fighters, Rampage Jackson and Tito Ortiz, talked to each other for a while.

I don't like MMA. I feel like by all logical means I probably should. It's still dudes beating each other up right? But I just don't like it. I find it boring. I like wrestling for the acrobatics. I love seeing dudes flying out of the ring.  MMA just looks like a lot of dudes rolling around hugging. If I wanted to watch shirtless dudes hugging, well... I'd watch something else.

Some wrestling fans DO like MMA, and that's totally okay. But I feel like that's why they're two separate things. If you want to watch MMA, watch MMA. If you want to watch wrestling, watch wrestling. Don't put MMA in my wrestling. If MMA dudes want to wrestle, great! Let them wrestle! Don't put them on the mic for fifteen minutes to TALK about either/both of these things!

Although admittedly I did find myself liking Rampage Jackson after that vignette. So that was OKAY... I guess.

I don't know why this MMA crossover thing is happening. Basically it sounds like those two dudes are shilling for this fight that I DON'T CARE ABOUT and I HAVE NO INTENT OR DESIRE TO SEE. Using MMA is not going to draw in WRESTLING FANS.

There were a ton of backstage vignettes. I don't have a problem with backstage vignettes; in moderation. I love backstage stuff. What goes on back there? What's it look like? What are they doing back there? I even like the way they're filmed. I love the handheld caught footage aspect of that. WWE doesn't have that. WWE's backstage scenes are always like "Oh there just NATURALLY happens to be a camera back here JUST IN TIME to film this TOTALLY UNSCRIPTED SCENE."

But when we have to talk backstage for fifteen minutes about a ten minute match... you know?

Moderation in all things.

The Knockouts match was okay. I like that they have A. Have a women's division and B. The women actually kick some ass. That's more than what I get from the WWE.  There COULD be more women, and they could be LESS like supermodel-lookin-diva-ladies (Hamada? Awesome Kong? Anybody?) but they're women and they're fighting and that's all I'm going to ask for. Maybe fight a dude every now and then. Intergender matches are the shit.

Then there was like a tag match with tables, and that was OKAY... and the cage match with Sabin and Bully Ray, which was probably the best but then again I'm kind of biased... it was just altogether not a very strong show.

If I had one piece of advice, one aspect to change on TNA wrestling, this is what I would offer.

1. Wrestling. Back to basics. You have a fucking amazing roster. USE IT. You are a wrestling show. You market yourself as TNA/IMPACT WRESTLING. You call the people working on your show WRESTLERS. You put on WRESTLING MATCHES. Do you see what I'm getting at here? You are a WRESTLING show. You want to attract WRESTLING fans. Fans of wrestling have STOPPED WATCHING YOU because your wrestling, the CORE OF YOUR SHOW, is so goddamn terrible!

This is your foundation. This is the thing that your show, your company, was BUILT on. Right now you have too many branches on too small a base. MMA! Phone apps! Action figures! Record albums!

We don't need any of this crap!

We want wrestling!

That's it! GOOD wrestling. Good, CONSISTENT wrestling. I want a solid match. I want a clean ending. I don't want interference from outside sources, I don't want illegal weapons, I don't want cheaty pins with feet on ropes, I don't want cheaty pins with tights being grabbed. I want a clean pin or a clean submission. I want two dudes (or two teams, or whatever) in the ring, who know what they're doing. I don't want gimmicks or surprises or interference or weapons or whatever. Two dudes, in the ring, one loser one winner.

I don't think I ask for that much.

I haven't been watching for long enough to get a long-term picture of what this show is doing, but the Heavyweight title has changed hands twice since I started watching. I don't like the sound of that at all. By slapping around your MAIN TITLE you devalue it. If it's changed hands two different times in the past MONTH, you're saying anyone can get it.

That's just a pet peeve of mine; WWE does that too occasionally.

But seriously. TNA, Dixie, Hulk Hogan, Bischoff, whoever is running the damn joint, please. PLEASE. I don't purport to know what you're doing or how you're doing it. I wouldn't know how to run a wrestling company if my life depended on it. But I really, truly, seriously think you cannot go wrong with buckling down and going back to your core basis, which is badass motherfuckin' wrestling.

I know you can do it. I have seen matches that PROVE you can do it. You don't need MMA and a hundred different factions and points and free-per-views and mobile apps and action figures and whatever else the fuck. Quit this fucking nonsense and go script some legit wrestling. Your show is two hours long. Try making at least an hour of that pure wrestling. You don't need to talk about it, just put this dude and that dude out there and let them duke it out. Do they need a reason? Fuck no they don't need a reason. AJ Styles and Austin Aries from a couple weeks back was fucking AMAZING. Why were they fighting? Who gives a fuck? It was great! And then you said "Now we have to finish up this amazing stiff as fuck match so we can have talking."

No. We don't need to have talking. I don't give a fuck about talking. I want to watch dudes beat the shit out of each other. You don't need to complicate things. You really don't. If you put on consistent, good, quality, not gimmicky wrestling... seriously, it will only help you. You cannot go wrong with building up your foundation, you just can't.

Seriously, TNA. You have SO MUCH POTENTIAL with your roster, and I have seen you do amazing, badass, brilliant motherfucking things. Stop trying to be every fucking thing at once. Just be wrestling.

You did this once.

You can do it again.

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